Shares in Facebook’s parent company Meta have soared after it was announced that dividends will be paid to investors for the first time.
Stock in the tech giant surged by more than 15% – adding more than £110bn to its valuation. To put this into context, that rise alone is five times higher than the whole value of its rival Snap.
Meta has been on a winning street in recent weeks, hitting record highs for the first time in over two years, with its financial performance beating expectations in its latest results.
Analysts say the company has clocked one of its most impressive quarters – with revenue rising 25% to $40.1bn (£31.5bn) in the final three months of 2023.
Meanwhile, Meta’s net income jumped by over 200% to $14bn ($11bn) – fuelled by user growth, a recovery in ad sales, and a brutal cost-cutting drive that has seen 21,000 people lose jobs.
The newly announced dividend has been set at 50 cents (39p) a share, while a $50bn (£39bn) share buyback programme is also set to benefit existing investors.
It marks a rapid turnaround for Meta, whose shares suffered a meltdown in 2022 that wiped out over three-quarters of their value at the time.
Sunday will mark Facebook’s 20th anniversary – with the platform transforming from a website founded in a dorm room to a social network with billions of users.
Meta also owns Facebook and Instagram.
The upbeat results came a day after Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, appeared at a heated hearing before politicians in Washington.
He faced a number of parents holding pictures of children who died after being affected by online harms, amid allegations tech platforms are failing to protect young people from being exploited.
One senator accused Mr Zuckerberg of having “blood on his hands” – adding: “You have a product that’s killing people.”
The entrepreneur issued an apology to the families present at the hearing, and said: “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we invest so much and we are going to continue doing industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.